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A very mighty Finn – the story of Finland’s Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim

on Sun Mar 06, 2016 4:38 pm
Mannerheim: President, Soldier, Spy
Book by Jonathan Clements
The Finns…managed to side with Germany while being spared the persecution of their native Jews and nearly all their refugees, according to Hannu Rautkallio’s book Finland and the Holocaust. Above all, it was Mannerheim’s chummy relations with Hitler that kept the Nazis at bay.


Article by Farah Halimemar for Ozy

Cigar smoke filled the mahogany coach, clinging to the reddish curtains and maroon upholstery. It was June 4, 1942, and Finland’s top commander was celebrating his 75th birthday. But rather than partying at a palace or posh hotel, Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim and his colleagues had reason to meet in a secret railway siding: Adolf Hitler had arrived unannounced, and Mannerheim wanted to avoid any indication that this was a formal state visit. Using the diplomacy and discretion for which he’s now famed, Mannerheim charmed the führer for the good of his nation.

His only way to save Finland from Stalin’s tyranny was to ally himself with the Nazis, so Mannerheim played a delicate balancing game of keeping his troops strong while cordially courting Hitler’s favor without a formal alliance. “Mannerheim was extremely wary of the Germans, as he had been in 1918,” Jonathan Clements, author of Mannerheim: President, Soldier, Spy, tells OZY. “He was no friend of the Nazis,” Clements says, but rather created the intricately worded “co-belligerency pact” that specified how Germany and Finland, while not allies, were militarily cooperating to fight the same enemy. Luckily for posterity, a tape was surreptitiously made of the men’s birthday conversation. It’s the only known recording of Hitler speaking privately and echoes a strangely intimate tone for a leader better known for feverish public speeches.

Finland remained a unique case throughout the war, thanks largely to Mannerheim’s efforts. It was the only European country bordering the Soviet Union in 1939 that remained unoccupied in 1945, thanks in part to Stalin’s admiration of the marshal for refusing to attack Leningrad. The Finns also managed to side with Germany while being spared the persecution of their native Jews and nearly all their refugees, according to Hannu Rautkallio’s book Finland and the Holocaust. Above all, it was Mannerheim’s chummy relations with Hitler that kept the Nazis at bay. He hid his embarrassment at the führer’s surprise birthday visit, sneaking him into his private saloon, and even when Hitler gifted him a Mercedes-Benz for choosing to ally with him in 1941, Mannerheim accepted his token graciously, and discreetly. But in August 1944, when Mannerheim was elected president, he arrived at his inauguration in his Sedan V12 Packard, not the Mercedes, according to Mannerheim Museum archives.......................

To read further go to this link:  ozy.com
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